|Largemouth bass have made a tremendous comeback
to the Niagara Region. The presence of the zebra mussel, along
with stringent pollution controls, has contributed to very clear
water conditions throughout the Great Lakes. This has resulted
in significant weed growth, giving the largemouth a place to grow
and prosper. A big bucket mouth over eight pounds was taken in
the summer of 2002. Largemouths are found in shallow, weedy areas
of the Niagara River, as well as in bays and harbors lining the
shores of both Ontario and Erie. Jig and pig along with plastic
worms and spinner baits work best.
||Often called "redeye," they can be caught
spring, summer and fall throughout the Greater Niagara fishing
area. Considered a panfish, they can be caught in relatively shallow
waters under docks, under overhanging bushes or around any type
of bottom structure. Worms, small spinners and wet flies seem to
|Smallmouth bass are one reason that so many
fishermen come to the Greater Niagara Region each year. Both Lakes
Erie and Ontario hold huge numbers of smallies and they grow to
trophy size as well. Average catches are 20 to 50 fish a day can
be enjoyed throughout the season with fish in the 4 pound class
not uncommon. Fish in the super-trophy 6 and 7 pound range show
up each year as well. Minnows and crawfish work best for those
who choose live bait; tube jigs, grubs and other soft plastics
like Reapers take the most fish when using artificials. The state
record fish comes from Lake Erie, an eight pound, four ounce fish
hauled in during the special early season on Lake Erie. This early
season extends from the first Saturday in May until the third Saturday
in June when the rest of the state opens up.
||The entire Niagara River was once a fish
factory for these fish. Also known as silver bass, population numbers
have dwindled a bit. However, they can still be caught with some
regularity in the spring and fall by anglers using small silver
spoons, spinners, small jigs tipped with twistertails and live
bait like worms.
|These popular panfish are just what the doctor
ordered to keep young kids busy and happy. While these are two
different types of fish, they'll often occupy the same waters,
such as around sunken limbs, weeds or any type of shallow bottom
structure. Red worms are the favorite bait of these feisty scrappers.
They can be found in lakes Erie and Ontario, the Niagara River,
the Erie Canal and most inland lakes and ponds.
||These fish can be found throughout the Greater
Niagara area, too, with spring being the most popular time for
catching these tasty fish. Beware of the sharp spines on the dorsal
and pectoral fins. Worms, crabs and minnows are all favorite foods
of whiskered fish, but stink bait, chunks of meat or dough balls
can all be used to catch these fish, too. The state record brown
bullhead is six pounds, nine ounces; the black bullhead is seven
pounds, seven ounces.
|Carp are quickly gaining recognition as a
prized catch in Greater Niagara waters, especially since European
anglers started coming over to sample our fishery. The result has
been some impressive catches, including some fish over 40 pounds.
The state record is a 50 pound, four ounce beast. Carp can be found
in most streams, the shallow bays off Erie and Ontario, as well
as throughout the Niagara River and Erie Canal system. Worms are
a favorite bait, as is corn, dough balls or bread.
||These fish are really making a mark on the
local fishing scene, with a state record fish of over 31 pounds
coming from Lake Erie waters in 2002. While that mark has since
been broken by a 32 pound, 12 ounce fish, these fish can be consistently
caught from May to October throughout Great Lakes waters.
|Sometimes referred to as Calico bass, these tasty panfish can be found in the shallows of the Great Lakes, the Niagara River and even in the Erie Canal. Both white and black crappie can be found in the Greater Niagara Region with the best bait being a minnow placed two feet below a bobber. They will also hit small artificial lures. Best time of year to catch these fish is spring and fall.
||These small exotic invaders spell bad news for the local fish communities. Introduced into the Great Lakes through illegal ship ballast exchanges in the past decade, population levels have exploded and they are starting to displace native species of fish.
|Musky is the king of freshwater and this
majestic fish grows to mammoth proportions in the waters of Greater
Niagara. Proof is the size limit of 54 inches for fish taken in
Lake Erie in NY. Below the Peace Bridge in the Upper Niagara River
and the Lower Niagara and Lake Ontario the size limit is 48 inches,
still a monster of a fish. Catch and release are the way most musky
hunters treat their quarry and annually fish in the 40 pound class
are sent back to be caught another day. Giant baits trolled with
wire line or Fireline are the ticket, although an increasing number
of anglers are taking up casting the outside of weed edges to target
||The white perch is a close relative of the
white bass and striped bass. The most recognizable trait of this
silvery fish is its purple throat. It differs from silver bass
in that it has a dark back. Small worms are the best bait. They
are usually found in six to eight feet of water near the bottom.
The state record is three pounds, one ounce.
|Olive green on the back turning to yellow
on the underside with six to eight dark bands on their sides, yellow
perch travel in schools so when you find one you'll find more of
these excellent eating table fare. These fish can be found in good
numbers throughout the Greater Niagara Region, especially in lakes
Erie, Ontario and the Niagara River. Spring and fall are the best
times to catch these fish with minnows and red worms the best baits.
The state record catch is a three pound, eight ounce fish that
was reeled in from Lake Erie back in 1982. Current daily creel
limit is 50 fish.
||This first cousin to the musky can be found
with frequency throughout the Greater Niagara area. Some of the
weedy areas around the Niagara River, as well as some of the harbors
off lakes Erie and Ontario, offer good opportunity to catch these
toothy critters. Ditto on the Erie Canal, especially in the spring
off feeder creeks. A chub fished under a bobber is a favorite shorefishing
technique. Other popular baits include spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits
-- anything with flash. While no one has ever caught anything close
to the state record 46 pound, two ounce mark, fish over 20 pounds
have been recorded from local waters.
|This species was once indigenous to New York.
Catching an Atlantic salmon is a rare feat, but once you catch
one youíll remember it for a lifetime. Lake Ontario is the only
water in the Greater Niagara area currently receiving stockings,
with occasional fish showing up in Lake Ontario, the Niagara River
and some of the tributaries like Eighteenmile Creek at Burt Dam.
Minimum size for these fish is 25 inches long in an effort to protect
them. The state record is another Lake Ontario fish, a 24 pound
15 ounce trophy. These fish are often confused with brown trout for identification.
||The king salmon is one of the most sought
after trophies on Lake Ontario. They can be caught from April through
November, with one of the best times being April and May on the
Niagara Bar. During the Spring Lake Ontario Counties Derby, more
than 50 percent of all winning fish are traditionally caught from
these waters. August and September are also good months in the
lake from the Niagara River to Olcott. This is when these fish
will move into the river and tributaries in an attempt to spawn.
The state record fish is 47 pounds, 15 ounces. Occasional salmon
will show up in Lake Erie tributaries, but no stocking is currently
done in these waters.
|This cousin of the Chinook normally doesnít
get as big as the king. However, with the world record catch coming
from Lake Ontario at 33 pounds, seven ounces, you might get an
argument from some. These fish show up in the spring and hang around
into the fall when they follow the kings in to spawn. Only Lake
Ontario receives stockings of these fish currently, but an occasional
fish will show up in Lake Erie tribs. These are also popular fish
to target with spoons and spinners off the piers at Wilson and
Olcott during the spring when waters are just starting to warm.
||The sheepshead or freshwater drum is the
only member of the drum family that lives entirely in freshwater
in North America. They are quite common throughout the Great Lakes
of Western New York And usually put up a good fight. The ear bones
in the head of the fish have long been considered "lucky stones." Average
size is only about 15 inches long, but they do get much bigger.
The state record catch is currently 24 pounds, seven ounces.
|Rainbow smelt is a popular forage fish in
the Great Lakes. Both Erie and Ontario support populations of these
tasty baitfish, Which are most accessible in the spring when they
attempt to run up feeder streams to spawn. The most noteworthy
run is the lower Niagara River in Lewiston, home of the Smelt Festival
and the Smelt Capital of the World designation in April. Long handled
dip nets are used at night to catch these fish.
||There are many species of sturgeon, but the
one that's indigenous to this area is the lake sturgeon. Considered
a threatened species in this state, this living fossil has been
making a comeback on the local front. These fish are easily identifiable
by the sharp bony plates along their back and sides; and by their
long pointed snout. Lake sturgeon can grow to lengths of over six
feet, weigh in excess of 200 pounds and live to be more than 100
years old. Your best bet at seeing and/or catching one of these
fish is in the Niagara River. It is illegal to possess these fish.
|These fish can be found in most every stream
flowing into either Lake Erie or Lake Ontario come spring and early
summer. Spearing was once a legal method for taking these fish
in the tributaries, but that option is no longer available to anglers.
Instead, try fishing with dew worms at night. A state record sucker
was caught in the Niagara River several years ago but it failed
to make the books because of a low level of awareness. The top
white sucker is five pounds, three ounces; the record redhorse
sucker is 11 pounds, 11 ounces.
||Most of the brown trout fishing takes place in Lake Ontario portion of Niagara County, although some of the Erie County inland streams may see some stocking. Browns can be found throughout the year in Lake Ontario or its tributaries, with the hotspots being Eighteenmile Creek at Burt Dam; Twelvemile Creek at Wilson; and the lower Niagara River during fall and winter.
Come springtime, the big lake is the best spot, trolling the shoreline
during April and May. July and August is a good time to target
browns out a bit deeper, but inside of 100 foot depths. Placing
small spoons on or near the bottom near the thermocline is traditionally
the best approach. Fish over 30 pounds have been caught. The state
record is 33 pounds, two ounces from Lake Ontario.
Lake trout are part of a Federal restoration effort. Each year, New Yorkís portion of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario receives around 620,000 fish. Lake trout abound in the Greater Niagara Region for a number of reasons. In Lake Erie, the Eastern Basin of the lake is some of the deepest and coldest waters in the lake, affording good angler opportunity for trollers working deep water shoals and reefs with spoons and stickbaits. May through August is the best time. One fish is the limit on this lake, the same body of water the state record comes from at 41 pounds, eight ounces. In Lake Ontario and the Niagara River, lake trout abound from the Niagara Bar to 30 Mile Point for those looking to target them. In the winter and early spring, lake trout actually run up into the Lower Niagara River and are easily accessible from both boat and shore. Out in the lake, these trout can be caught from January until September 30th when the season closes. There is a three fish limit in the lake, but a slot limit of 25 to 30 inches protects prime spawning fish. That could change in 2006 when a proposal could reduce the creel to two per person but allow for one fish inside the slot and one outside the slot. Average size in the river and out in the lake is 10 to 14 pounds. The previous state record of 39 pounds, 8 ounces came from the mouth of the Niagara River. In all of these lake trout waters, youíve got an excellent chance at catching a 20-pound trophy, with an outside chance at a 30-pound fish!
||The rainbow/steelhead trout are popular targets
and can be caught throughout the year in Greater Niagara waters.
These fish can be caught in the tributaries from September through May, depending on water temperatures. During the remaining months, they can be caught in both Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario) by targeting thermal structure in preferred temperature zones. Spoons and stickbaits are the most popular baits for trollers; drifters and casters like using egg sacks, egg imitation baits or live bait like worms or minnows. The top steelhead fishery in Niagara County is the lower Niagara River; in Erie County itís Cattaraugus Creek and Eighteenmile Creek. All streams with decent water flow will attract fish, however. Record steelhead trout caught August 2004 by Rob Wilson of Ohio 31 lb. 3oz.
|Walleye is one of the most popular sport
fish anywhere. They grow big and plenty are available here in the
Greater Niagara Region. If you want to catch a limit of 4 to 7
pound fish there is no place in North America better than Lake
Erie. Itís known as the Walleye Capital of the World! Whatís a
little known secret, though, is that the Niagara Bar located at
the Mouth of the Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario hosts some of
the largest walleye anywhere. Fish in the 14 to 16 pound class
are taken (and released) annually and one over 18 pounds has been
recorded (although not officially because the state record is 16
pounds, eight ounces). Best baits are spinner and worm for you
drifters and slow trollers. For speed trolling Reef Runner Stick
Baits and worm harnesses attached to Dipsy Divers and side planers/planer
boards work best. A jig tipped with a nightcrawler is also a tough
bait to beat.